ISLAMABAD (APP) - The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) here on Tuesday approved the exemption of sales tax on packed fruits and vegetables to reduce their price. The ECC met here under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani and reviewed the price situation prevailing in the country. The ECC was told that the entire world was facing extra-ordinary situation due to the unprecedented rise in oil and food prices which have effected Pakistan as well. The ECC reviewed the prices of essential food items including wheat, ghee, rice, sugar, and asked the concerned Ministries/Divisions to ensure adequate supply of these commodities to avoid further build up in prices. The ECC was apprised of the progress made on wheat procurement by the provincial governments and PASSCO and directed the Federal and Provincial procurement agencies to speed up the procurement process to achieve the targets. While expressing government's strong commitment to control hoarding and smuggling at all cost, the Prime Minister directed the provincial governments as well as concerned law enforcement agencies to adopt strict measures to stop any possibility of smuggling. It was further decided that there should be no restriction on inter-district movement of wheat. The ECC felt that private sector has to be encouraged to play its due role in the purchase and supply of wheat to the flourmills so that atta remains available at reasonable price to the people. The role of utility stores in providing essential food items including wheat flour and edible oil/ghee was also discussed in the meeting. The ECC noted that the price differences between the USC and the market for wheat flour and edible oil/ghee have increased substantially and needed phased rationalisation. The Governor State Bank of Pakistan briefed the meeting about the state of economy. She informed the meeting about the balance of payments, export/import and foreign exchange reserves situation, interest rate and overall monetary situation. The Governor SBP informed the ECC that foreign exchange reserves of the country stood at US$ 12.7 billion on April 19, 2008 and were likely to improve with the passage of time. The Finance Minister informed the ECC that there were inflows in the pipeline, which will augment the foreign exchange reserves. The Commerce Secretary informed the ECC that almost 80 per cent additional increase in total imports during the first nine months (July-March) was accounted by five items, namely wheat, POL products, palm oil, raw cotton and fertilizer. The meeting also accorded approval for allowing the Secretaries Committee,  headed by Finance Minister to monitor the supply demand and price situation of various food items to take urgent decisions at the committee's level in anticipation of the approval of ECC.